American Elephants


BOOM! It Was 42 Years Ago Today by American Elephant
May 18, 2022, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Environment, History, News, Pop Culture | Tags: ,

[The following was originally posted in 2008]

Chances are, if you’re not from Washington or Oregon, the date May 18th has little meaning to you. Heck, even around here, many don’t think of it unless someone reminds them.

But I remember — every year.

It’s one of the only world events I remember from back then (I was very young after all). But the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 was just the kind of event that little boys remember forever.

We were very fortunate; the mountain exploded northwards, but the prevailing winds carried the ash plume away to the southeast. I remember being somewhat disappointed that the ash wasn’t turning day into night for us like it was for all the people on TV. In fact, we didn’t seem to get any ash-fall at all, much to my chagrin; while people on the other side of the mountain were measuring it in inches like snow. According to news reports, there were people on the other side of the country getting more ash fall than I was. As you can imagine, I was very envious!

So much excitement! So little pay-off.

About the most exciting thing I personally experienced was standing on my dad’s roof to see the enormous plume looking fairly small and unimpressive so many miles away. I’m not sure if we heard the explosion or not. They say people heard it up to 700 miles away, and we were certainly much closer than that. I think we did — but then, that could just be my memory playing tricks on me.

So close, and yet so far. But I still remember it every year.




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